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Payday for Community Workers as FWA Agrees on Equal Pay

1 February 2012 at 1:04 pm
Staff Reporter
Fair Work Australia has found in favour of the community sector equal pay claim which will see major pay rises for tens of thousands of workers across the country.

Staff Reporter | 1 February 2012 at 1:04 pm


Payday for Community Workers as FWA Agrees on Equal Pay
1 February 2012 at 1:04 pm

Fair Work Australia has found in favour of the community sector equal pay claim which will see major pay rises for tens of thousands of workers across the country.

Community works will see pay rises of between 19% for level two employees and up to 41% for level 8 workers.

The 4-1 Full Bench judgement on the application for an equal remuneration order in the social and community services industry was handed down in Melbourne and gives equal remuneration pay rises over 8 years.

The judgement says: “We are prepared to make an equal remuneration order in the terms indicated. Such an order will ensure that for the employees to whom the order will apply, there will be equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value. The percentage additions at each wage level and the further 4 per cent loading will be introduced in nine equal instalments on 1 December in each of the years 2012 to 2020.”

Vice President Watson however was the dissenting vote. In the Judgement Statement he says “I am respectfully unable to agree with the conclusion of the other members of the Full Bench expressed in paragraphs 62–73 of the majority decision.

“In my view the applicants in this matter have failed to establish that the salary increases sought are consistent with the legislative provisions under which the application has been made.

“The case is unprecedented by reference to international equal pay cases. It does not seek equal pay for men and women in a single business, or in an industry. Rather, it seeks to establish a large minimum over award payment for all men and women in the entire SACS industry to a level approaching public sector wage levels. It has more in common with a case based on comparative wage justice than equal pay.”

In November 2011 the Gillard Government announced a land mark $2 billion agreement on equal pay for Australia’s Community workers that would lead to some tens of thousands of community sector workers receiving pay rises of about 20 per cent.

On 11 March 2010 the Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union, the Health Services Union, the Australian Workers' Union of Employees, Queensland, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union and the Australian Education Union lodged an application for an Equal Remuneration order.

Almost two years after the case was launched, the Gillard government struck an agreement with the Australian Services Union to deliver a joint submission to Fair Work Australia based on the same pay scale approved for Queensland workers in 2009.

Gillard has announced the Government was prepared to spend $2 billion over six years to deliver higher wages if it was approved by Fair Work Australia.

Fair Work Australia had previously found that SACS workers are paid lower wages than public sector employees doing similar work, and that gender played a role in creating this wage disparity.

However, the tribunal fell short of issuing an equal remuneration order, calling for more evidence to be submitted to determine the extent to which lower wages had been affected by gender.

The decision can be found here. 

View our extensive and ongoing coverage of the equal pay campaign here.

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